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United Kingdom, Country Drug Report 2017

This report presents the top-level overview of the drug situation in the United Kingdom, covering drug supply, use and public health problems as well as drug policy and responses. The statistical data reported relate to 2015 (or most recent year) and are provided to the EMCDDA by the national focal point, unless stated otherwise.

Launched in 2010, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Drug Strategy 2010: Reducing Demand, Restricting Supply, Building Recovery addresses illicit drugs and has two overarching aims: (i) to reduce illicit and other harmful drug use; and (ii) to increase the number of people recovering from their dependence (Figure 1). These aims are addressed though three thematic areas: (i) reducing demand; (ii) restricting supply; and (iii) building recovery in communities. The UK Government is responsible for the strategy and its delivery in the devolved administrations only in matters where it has reserved power. Within the strategy, policies concerning health, education, housing and social care are confined to England, while those for policing and the criminal justice system cover both England and Wales.

A number of powers are devolved to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and each of these countries has its own strategy and action plans. Both the current Welsh strategy, Working Together to Reduce Harm: The Substance Misuse Strategy for Wales 2008-18, and Scotland’s strategy, The Road to Recovery: A New Approach to Tackling Scotland’s Drug Problem, were adopted in 2008. Northern Ireland’s policy, New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs Phase 2: 2011-16, was launched in 2011. Strategies in Northern Ireland and Wales address both illicit drugs and alcohol.

All European countries evaluate their drug policies and strategies through ongoing indicator monitoring and specific research projects. Both the UK’s and all the devolved administrations’ drug strategies are subject to annual implementation progress reviews. None of the current strategies has been formally evaluated, but a framework for evaluating the UK’s strategy focused on costs and benefits was published in 2013.